Siena's Law: NY bill would have high school students learn self-breast, chest exam

BABYLON, Long Island (WABC) -- Lawmakers in Albany are considering a bill that would require New York's high school health education curriculum to include teaching students how to perform a self-breast or chest exam.

Siena's Law is named after the daughter of Shannon Saturno, of Babylon, who died from breast cancer at 31 years old.

Saturno was the daughter-in-law of Eyewitness News photographer Anthony Saturno.

"These children need to be aware," said Kevin Saturno, Shannon Saturno's husband. "They need to be educated."

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Under Siena's Law, high school students would be instructed on the methods of prevention and detection of certain cancers, including breast cancer, skin cancer and testicular cancer.

In addition, the law would encourage schools to teach students in elementary and middle school about breast cancer.

Those with local boards of education would have the final say.

"Education always decreases the fear," said Linda Bonanno, of First Company Pink, the group that has been spearheading the bill.

In 2019, New York State approved Shannon's Law -- named after Shannon Saturno -- which requires large group insurers in New York to cover mammograms for women aged 35 to 39.

Bonanno said the hope is that under Siena's Law, children in elementary school would be taught about healthy eating habits, to middle school, where students would be taught about the importance of genetic testing and knowing one's family health history.

The culmination of the education, Bonanno said, would be in high school, where students would get instruction on how to perform a self-breast or chest exam.

"Once they hit college, it's fun and a million other things, and boyfriend and girlfriend, you lose them," she said. "You lose your opportunity to really establish a routine."

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The bill for Siena's Law is currently in the Education Committees of the New York State Assembly and Senate.

"So far, we have a lot of support, but we do need more support," said Donna Cioffi, with First Company Pink.

Mary Denning-Cornett, also with First Company Pink, said the goal is to take laws like Shannon's Law and Siena's Law to a national level.

"We have a lot more work to do," she said.

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